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The Banshees of Innisherin

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Loneliness and lovelessness are characteristic of our fractured times. Jump back to 1923 with writer/director Martin McDonagh and his tragicomedy The Banshees of Inisherin. It’s a fictional archipelago off the coast of Ireland with a population of around 100. That’s lonely and at times mad, but it dramatizes human stubbornness like few other films ever.

Padraic (Colin Farrell—Oscar worthy performance) realizes that his best friend, Colm (Brendan Gleeson in just as good a performance), no longer wants to talk to him because Colm believes Padraic is a dullard, who is keeping him from composing music for his violin. That’s the core conflict of this drama because the intensity of their separation and Padraic’s being unable to understand Colm’s need to be alone at this time of his waning life.

During the repetitions of their separation, characters walk beautiful roads with ancient stone borders emphasizing the narrowness of life and the stunning beauty outside the road and the spare homes that provide room and board but nothing else. The “else” is provided by numerous trips to the pub, where gossip is traded, lives parsed, and laws broken without recourse.

The bro breakup is as intense as any split anywhere at any time. Like the Irish Civil War constantly reminding the island of the world’s ability to fight inside itself, the conflict of two best friends mirrors the ability of brothers to fight each other for the smallest of reasons anywhere. One of the best movies this year and anytime.

Banshees of Inisherin

Director: Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)

Screenplay: McDonagh

Cast: Colin Farrell (In Bruges), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges)

Run Time: 1h 49m

Rating: R

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com